Under the Sun is the title of the outstanding contemporary jazz release on Patrick's Song Factory from the masterful keyboardist/composer Patrick Bradley. His initial solo release, Come Rain or Shine, appeared four years ago serving as the artist's formal introduction. On Under the Sun the artist has emancipated all his enormous creative chops to craft a modern tour de force that provides gratifying classy excellence throughout. Bradley states that the idea lying at the root of this record, after reflection of his own life, was the philosophized principal to enjoy life during the brief time we partake of under the sun pursuing ones dreams, hopes and aspirations. He has wisely recruited Jeff Lorber to adeptly produce the record, aid in co-writing several of the songs, and to also provide a measure of his singular trademark Philly funk/fusion flavored keyboards to the mix. Numerous other distinguished contemporary jazz heavyweights are also on hand. These imaginative, sleekly resourceful artists ardently give their significant support to Bradley, tightly embracing these marvelous melodies, with the entire package sumptuously enhanced by its jewel-like production.
The first cut, "Straight Path," immediately secures a soulful groove nourished by Alex Al on bass, Tony Moore on drums, and Dwight Sills on guitar. Lorber and Bradley provide the primary harmonizing punch on keyboards with David Mann interjecting some beguiling musical intrigue with freshly placed horn counterpoints. Patrick states in the liner notes that the muse for this song was Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Bible, which he firmly asserts is his "life verse." The assembled musicians play with unswerving vigor and steadfast spirit.
The second song, "Into The Sunset," is another solo-penned composition from Bradley. Written with his wife Lisa in mind, the song boasts an appealing inspirational touch and contains a particularly captivating piano-fed melody to celebrate his love for her. It is a simply gorgeous tune, with Michael Thompson adding lovely acoustic guitar fills that imbue the tune with graceful sinuous sunbeam strokes.
Marching merrily along, "The Message," is thickly saturated with keyboard substance and horns arranged skillfully. The simple rhythm furnished by Lorber on drums and bass synth is merely an excuse for the varied keyboards to punctuate the melody like a zealous English professor. Perhaps the message conveyed herein is to always improvise with style. "Just Let Go" is a beautifully introspective ballad that glides along gently, in large part fueled by the heavenly saxophone of Dave Koz paired with some shadowy contemplative vocals by Irene B. Bradley's sensitive piano is ethereally incandescent and makes an exquisite and blissful sentry to Koz's elegant tones.
The energetic "Slipstream" is assertively upbeat and features flugelhorn and trumpet master Rick Braun soaring spellbindingly over the churning rock steady drums of Tony Moore and the beaming bass lines of Nate Phillips. The prominently displayed keyboard teamwork of Lorber and Bradley is full of swirling brawn. The liner notes provided by Bradley suggest his hobby of road cycling encouraged the positive flow inherent on this smart and thrilling blast of ingenuity. The hustling velocity readily conveyed in the song is fun and exhilarating, accurately resembling a down-hill bike run.
Bradley reaffirms his talent extends to Moog and all manner of keyboards on the progressive "Time and Chance." Drummer Dave Weckl displays why his services are in high demand with a stand-out demonstration of polished perfection. The tart horns contrast nicely with the smooth keyboards and the electrical current flows freely with rapid tempo changes. "Crows On The Lawn" is most notable for a fabulous horn riff courtesy of Eric Marienthal on alto saxophone alongside Jeff Lorber on his Rhodes surging together with Patrick's piano on a delightful jaunt that bites with contemporary wit. In addition, inside the groove lies yet another unforgettable melodic triumph.
The Lorber/Bradley composition "Tears From The Sky" has a beautiful harmonizing of keyboards with a periodically piercing lead guitar to emit an air of inspirational optimism despite current gray skies overtones. Dwight Sills' prime guitar solo is crucial to the song's distinguishing atmospheric stimulus. Bradley's piano play is bittersweet conveying happiness and sadness simultaneously.
Dwight Sills again splendidly impresses with fiery fretwork on guitar on the brisk fusion flavored "Rush Street." Patrick says that the song was inspired by Chicago, a city he loves. This tune does communicate a sense of hustle and bustle associated with a large metropolis. The keyboards parade on a groove somewhat akin to the sensation of Ramsey Lewis's "In Crowd." The potent rhythm section is bolstered by an Alex Al abrupt effective bass lead. When all these powerful ensemble elements dovetail, it makes a showy spectacle of persuasive delight.
The title track, "Under The Sun," features percolating keyboards to jazzily infect the melody with a funk filled stream that coolly boils. It's as if the various keyboards used by these skilled masters are dueling; but with rubber tips on their swords (i.e. having great fun) as they clash.
The progressive rock keyboard wizardry of ELP's Keith Emerson from the pomp and circumstance era of "Tarkus" is present on the final song, the stately majestic "The Empress of Dalmatia." Starting slowly, the rhythm builds to striding crescendos of guitar and exploding pyrotechnical keyboards seemingly serving to proclaim a forthcoming regal coronation. Although the song may call to mind a bygone era; it nonetheless sounds fresh and modern.
Abounding in substance and fully loaded with lasting extraordinary melodies, Patrick Bradley's Under The Sun is unsurpassed listening enchantment. The confidently positive stance manifested on this work is highly charismatic. To say this release is "radio ready" is an understatement. The hard part would be deciding which cut to release first. is inundated with entertaining songs, masterful technical musicianship, and sterling production values heaped onto the base foundation. It all tallies up to a superior contemporary jazz masterpiece that I will surely cherish for the remainder of my days under the sun.